Benefits of Living in Community: It’s Sometimes Easy to be Green

 I am not very good about being intentional about caring for the environment. Of course I know it’s important. It’s like number seven on my “List of Important Things I Feel Guilty That I Do Not Do” right behind exercising regularly, eating four cups of fruit and vegetables per day, and sending out birthday cards to relatives.

I try to excuse myself that I could be worse. I don’t litter. We recycle aluminum cans. We have hundreds of glass beer bottles under the house to refill with homemade beer. We compost every spring.  We grow a small garden. By far, however, the fact that we live in a multi-family home should be the biggest item on my “Reasons That I Can Still Live With Myself” list.

This benefit of living in community was definitely one of the unexpected ones, but I guess there is a reason hippies live in communes. For the same reasons that it is cheaper to share a home, it is also greener. The same amount of fuel is needed to heat a home whether one person or five are living there, as well as the same amount of electricity to run the refrigerator.

There are also some little ways that living in community is greener that I hadn’t thought of before. First off, we carpool to places such as church, our friend’s house, and the store. Second, we tend to buy in bulk creating less packaging waste per usable product. Third, we tend to share products and appliances such as tools, kitchen items,  etc. instead of buying one for each of us.

This trend isn’t unique to us.  For example this article shows that statistically  UK households of four or more people use 38% less products, 42% less packaging, 55% less electricity and 61% less gas per person than one person households. Plus a person living alone in the UK throws away 1600 kilograms of trash a year while those living in households of four or more throw away only 1000 kg per person per year. That’s a huge decrease!

While I can always do better at taking care of God’s earth, maybe I can push down caring for the environment to number 12 on my Feel Guilty list and prioritize something else, like birthday cards. Then again, isn’t it greener not to waste the paper and to send a Happy Birthday facebook post instead?

What are some of the creative ways that you help care for the environment?

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